We’re shipping it

by admin on November 4, 2009

A few weeks ago, Cath sent me this link to a video of a Seth Godin lecture. In the lecture he discusses the difference between having an idea and talking about something, and actually doing something about it. It is this tension that I have been wrangling for the last few years, in both my personal and professional lives.

In software development, we often run into difficulties with the constraints of limited resources and unlimited requirements, and many teams stall when they have reached the end of their time or funding. The trick is to anticipate the end of time and funding, and plan to release the most complete product within those constraints.

We are currently facing severe constraints in our funding, time and labour resources to build accommodation for the doctors in the rural area of Zithulele, but we are determined to do what we can within those constraints. Doing nothing is not an option. And we can’t do everything that is required right now. So we are doing what we can with what we have. Not waiting until we have more people, time and money.

And that is what the doctors are doing. And what makes me want to help them. They have not waited until the conditions were perfect for them to provide health services to their community. They have gone in there, and are shipping as much as they can right now. And building and adapting as they go.

And this is one of the hardest things for me, and something I work on constantly (I even have a little reminder tattooed on my wrist, but that’s another story), to deliver what I can now, and trust that it will be good enough. Or that we can improve, adapt or replace it later.

In the lecture, Seth invites us to tell him about status quo changing work we are shipping. So I decided to send him an email with a couple of stories about the work we are doing. And then I paused, and hesitated, and reworked parts of it, and procrastinated, until I realised that the email was good enough for now, and that I didn’t have any more time to spend on it, and just needed to ship it. So I did.

And the same goes for this post, but not writing anything would have been significantly less effective than publishing this (perhaps imperfect) post. Come on, people. Whatever it is that you are passionate about, stop thinking and talking, and ship it.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tamsin@nudgeme November 4, 2009 at 10:41 am

Hi Andy

I heard about your project from one of Cath’s Twitter posts and immediately wanted to know more because of my own links with South Africa. I learnt more about the project when we chatted on skype and she’s been keeping me in touch since!

I’ve just read this post after Cath tweeted about it and had to leave a comment immediately as it so resonated with me and my own tendency to procrastinate and wait for things to be just right (they of course never are …!?) and so here I am bashing out a comment rather than planning every word.

I just love your whole approach to this project, and if we could all just do a bit more of what this post is saying and less of the “yes, but, uhm it’s not quite right or ready or I’m not sure ….” chatter to ourselves, boy would we ever achieve so much more.

So I wholeheartedly endorse your message – whatever if is that you are passionate about, stop thinking, and talking and ship it!

Very much looking forward to hearing more and keeping in touch. The videos were such an eye opener Andy and there’s obviously so much to be done. But, as you say, that hasn’t stopped the doctors from pushing on, making things happen and making a massive difference.

All the best for now



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